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Separation and the Sense of Home

I’ve been noticing with a little bit of surprise and wonder how I’ve managed to come back to the United States and have such a seamless re-entry process. Today while walking in Berkeley with my friend Margie who was asking me about my trip to India, something started to come together. It’s actually quite interesting, at least to me, and I’d like to take some time here to flush this out a little more.

To provide a little background, different places/people/situation can have very different qualities. I couple of years ago, since I had been spending vast amounts of personal energy towards designing and building my own home, I really started to see what “home” means to me and the qualities that it has. To me, and I think to most people if they really sit with it, home has a lot of “mom-like” qualities. I don’t necessarily mean qualities of my mother, although perhaps that too, but really archetypal mother-like qualities. These would include nurturance, safety, holding, foundation, and support, to name a few. Some of you may be aware that psychologically, we all hopefully go through a phase in our lives when we need to separate from our mothers and leave the nurturance behind and move toward father, or a fathering figure, who teaches us more about the world beyond the home. For various complicating reasons in my childhood, that separation didn’t take place cleanly enough.

As an adult, while working on my home where I now live, I did my best to imbue the place with a sense of holding, nurturance, safety, support and foundation, the mom qualities I mentioned above as they commonly relate to a sense of home.

Flash forward ahead to Feb 10, 2009 where I was sitting at a bus stop in Tiruvannamalali, India, crying and struggling with the decision of whether to go home (towards comfort and familiarity) or remain longer in India. It was a hugely difficult decision because I simply wanted to go back home, to rest, to be in my sanctuary, yet there was something in my heart that really wanted to stay. By now, you know how the story unfolded – I didn’t get on the bus and I remained in India for another 2 months. If you haven’t already, you can read about that time at “The Heart Knows Better than the Mind.” What I realized yesterday was that by choosing the path of the heart rather than the path of comfort (by remaining in India and not going home to the safety, comfort and security of home – the mom place), that in a way I succeeded in further separating from my mother. I know that some of you may want to just write this off as psychological mumbo jumbo, but in actuality it is a deeply important process for me to have gone through, which I think can have, and already has had, transforming impacts on my life.

Since I’ve been back, I’ve written here about people asking me what it’s like to be back in the states. A common response for me is that “I can really be anywhere.” While I love my home, really love it, and more than ever before love the deepening and widening of my community and friendships growing around me, I also feel less connected and less rooted there. It’s funny, because, without explaining this, if I had just said that I am feeling less connected to and rooted to my community, people would think that I don’t like it as much, that it’s become like a cold and soon to be discarded lover. The truth in fact, is that more than ever before, I actually love the people I am connecting with and the beauty of the place and the community I have been part of creating. To carry the “lover” metaphor further along, it actually feels like the time in a loving relationship where you move beyond the initial honeymoon, past the initial merging fixations, and past the initial difficulties as well, and find a deeper, simpler, more true love awakening next to you.

Let me attempt to tie all this together for you. Now that I am more separated psychologically from my mother (by having chosen to have remained in India), whose archetypal qualities are imbued for me (and most of us) in my sense of home, I am no longer so attached to “home.” As such, this feeling of “I can really be anywhere” arises within me. In a way, I am also freer to love the people around me, my community, who also provide me with a sense of home, since they are no longer so corrupted in my psyche by the complications of mom-projections. Actually, I think that this separation may be playing a huge part in my feeling more loving in general, as my allegiance has been cut, and my energies can now flow more freely towards the widest expanse of humanity.

One more piece another friend suggested to me is that perhaps now, home is within me, and not tied to a place any more. I’m trying on that shirt today and will wear it around with me and see how it feels, but my initial reaction to her words are that she is spot on, that my home is right here within me, within my heart actually, and as such I can be free to be wherever I am and feel at home, completely at home. If you got to the end of this posting, congratulations, and thank you for your support and curiosity. This is potentially a huge development for me, larger than you can know, larger perhaps than I could have imagined. It feels unmistakably in my heart and broadening yet softening chest as Freedom.

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